Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta

Kale, a humble vegetable, was all but unnoticed ten years ago except for by the most savvy of gourmands or those diehard back-to-the-landers. Those in the know were aware of what many have just recently discovered – that kale is not only super easy to grow, but it‘s also as delicious and versatile a vegetable as anyone might find.

Purple or green in color, Russian or Italian in variety, kale has become the academy award winner of vegetables – a virtual unknown thrown into the limelight by both it’s talent and the audience’s’ appetite for greens.

Because kale has so much “tooth,” meaning it has a hearty and chewy mouth feel, it can take center stage in place of meat. Only the staunchest of meat-eaters will be the wiser. As a green it is also what could be called an entry-level green – not so bitter or peppery for first-timers or kids with more sensitive palates.

We used to be more accepting of all things bitter, but as salt and sugar have become more prevalent in the American diet, our tolerance for the bitter flavors has waned.

Enter kale. Roast it with a little oil, puree it in pesto, whizz it in a smoothie and in general boost your iron; vitamins A, C and D; anti-oxidants and fiber. Go green!

kale, garbanzo bean, and polenta recipe

Tuscan Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Kalamata Olive over Polenta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced red onion; about 1 large onion
2 cups carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch by 1/2-inch sticks; about 2 carrots
1 cup pitted Kalamata or other black olive
1 tablespoon minced garlic; about 1 large clove
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans, juice included
8 ounces kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped; about 8 cups
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese; about 1/2 cup lightly packed, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or stock pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrots and olives and sauté until the onions begin to brown on the edges, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until heated through but the kale is still bright and chewy. Serve over polenta with grated Parmesan cheese. Use your favorite polenta recipe or find mine here.

Serves 4 to 6

Easy and Healthy Appetizers for Super Bowl Sunday

Sunday will surely see me on the couch with a wide perimeter given by my family (football viewing is an active sport for some).  Before the big day, though, I’ll do some prep work so that we can all snack and graze while I watch.  May the best team win!

Appetizer Menu for Super Bowl Sunday
Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves
Baked Brie variations
Homemade Crackers
Tomato, Dill, and Fontina Tartlet
Potato Skins with Artichokes and Fontina
Steamed Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
Endive with Green Pea Hummus

healthy appetizers by Elizabeth Poisson

Steamed Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
When you trim artichokes immediately rubbing them with lemon juice can help keep them from turning brown.For those new to artichoke eating, break the leaves off of the artichoke and use your teeth to gently scrape the meat on the inside of the leaf. Discard the leaf. Once the leaves are gone, use a spoon to remove the choke (the fuzzy part) and enjoy the artichoke bottom.

2 artichokes, leaves and stems trimmed
1/2 lemon (plus extra for rubbing)
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Cover 2 artichokes with water in a small saucepan or stockpot large enough to accommodate. Add the lemon and salt. Bring the water to a boil with the cover on and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain upside down. Serve warm or chilled with the Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip.

Serves 4

Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip
The curry flavor will increase the longer you let it sit.

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
4 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (or less)
several pinches of kosher salt

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Makes 1 cup

Artichokes with Honey and Curry Yogurt Dip by Elizabeth Poisson

Annie
Let’s have some fun rooting for our teams!  Go Pats!

Endive with Green Pea Hummus

Here’s a healthy appetizer for Super Bowl Sunday or a snack for any day that doesn’t have football in it.  Recently posted on Diane Atwood’s blog, Catching Health, this simple recipe for green pea hummus is packed with healthy vitamins.  Serve with endive, as in the recipe, or with all sorts of cut veggies to add color to your appetizer spread.

endive with green pea hummus by Elizabeth Poisson

Annie
Just remember, it’s only a game…

Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts

Poached Salmon with Aspragus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts by Elizabeth Poisson

Last month I shared Lemon Poached Salmon with Horseradish and Caper Aioli and have another to share as a companion recipe.  This salad goes nicely with the salmon and is a good one for this time of year when we are all interested in fare that is light and healthy.   I mean, you haven’t jumped off the veggie wagon yet, right?  (Me either 🙂 )  I think I know what we are having for dinner tonight!

Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Walnuts
There are two ways to prepare the orange sections for this recipe. One is simply to peel the orange and separate the sections. The second is to peel the orange with a knife, called supreme or supreming (I mean how does one actually spell this word?), by slicing off the top and bottom and running your knife between the flesh and the rind. You then run your knife along both sides of the section membranes to remove only the flesh. This is a nicer way to serve the orange, but also a bit more complicated. Choose whichever suits your comfort level..

3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (for both sautéing and the salad)
2 cups asparagus thinly sliced on the diagonal, about 1 bunch or 15 to 20 stalks
3 cups lightly packed arugula
1 ounce shaved Romano cheese; about 1/4 cup
1 orange, sectioned, “carcass” reserved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons lemon juice; about 1/2 lemon
2 pinches kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove to a platter and spread out to cool quickly. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Squeeze the “carcass” of the orange on top of the greens and toss gently with your hands. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Still on the veggie wagon

Seven Ways to Add More Greens to Your Diet

Now that we’ve all reveled and partied; socialized and entertained; and eaten and drunk possibly past the point of judicious reason on one or more occasions during the past holidays, it’s time for a more moderated approach. One with less. Of everything involving fat, carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol and excess. The quickest and simplest way to find dietary equilibrium is by inserting more greens into our bowls and onto our plates.

healthy dinner ideas

Green vegetables of all kinds, as many of us know, are filled with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and fiber. What they aren’t filled with is the fore-mentioned excesses, unless we are talking portion size, and in that case, more is a good thing. I’m planning on getting my greens in any way I can over the next couple of months. Here are a few suggestions from my kitchen:

1. Add a salad to an already planned dinner. Easy, easy. This is something many of us already do; just make sure you have enough greens in the house and use a vinaigrette rather than a creamy dressing for a little while. When you dress your salad with lemon juice (and extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper) you have the added bonus of helping your body to absorb all of the nutrients in the greens.

healthy dinners

2. Salad as the main meal. Add protein of any kind and texture of any kind to create a meal rather than a side. Beans, avocado, nuts, dried fruit, cooked chicken or fish – really the sky is the limit.

3. Add another green vegetable to an already planned dinner. Steamed or sautéed is best for nutrient retention. With either, remove from heat when tender but still bright green.

4. Smoothies made with kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or collard greens. Or add a handful of greens to your already favorite breakfast smoothie. If you choose fruit or veggies that are light or green in color, your smoothie will also be bright green. If you love strawberries or other red or purple fruit in your smoothie, you’ll have to deal with dull green and brown. Get over it, they still taste great!

5. Add pureed greens to already prepared soups. For every soup that serves 4 people, heat 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock and puree with one cup lightly packed greens. Add to prepared soup right before serving and serve immediately. If not, the brilliant green becomes a dull avocado color.

6. Soups with greens as the main event.  Again, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or collard greens are the best go to’s.

Spinach Soup (with variations)
This soup is a gorgeous, brilliant green, and should be served immediately. If you would like to make it ahead, prepare everything just before adding the spinach. When you are ready to serve, heat the soup to a simmer and puree with spinach in the blender as per the directions.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
11/2 cups diced onions; about 1 medium onion
1 1/2 cups diced celery; about 2 stalks
1 cup peeled and diced parsnips; about 2 parsnips
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 ounces spinach leaves, de-stemmed and well-washed; about 3 cups lightly packed
Garnish with minced chives or a swirl of creme frâiche

In a medium stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables, salt and pepper and sauté until they become soft and translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the stock and again bring to a boil.

Place the uncooked spinach leaves in the blender and pour the hot stock over the leaves. Puree in a blender and serve immediately.

Serves 4 (Makes 6 cups)

Soup Variations
Chicken and Cilantro Spinach Soup – add 1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves with the spinach and 1 1/2 cups diced poached chicken.  Puree the greens with the stock or leave it rustic.
Cannellini Bean and Pesto Spinach Soup – add 4 tablespoons pesto with the spinach, puree, and then add 1 (15-ounce) can of cannellini beans.
Kale and Mushroom Soup – substitute kale for spinach, puree, and then add 1 cup sautéed mushrooms (3 cups raw and sliced).healthy soup

7. Substitute the pasta, potatoes, or rice for a bed of greens. For example, with beans and brown rice for dinner, just add a bed of sautéed kale, or even better, forgo the rice and just have the beans and kale with all the fixin’s. Instead of mashed potatoes, add roasted kale or collard greens to your plate. Toss spinach leaves with a hot vegetable pasta sauce and have a warm wilted salad for dinner without the pasta.

Annie
Vitamins rule

 

 

Holiday Appetizer – Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves

Rosemaryt Cheese with Apricot Preserves by Elizabeth Poisson

Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves
A reader gave this recipe to me and I’ve adjusted it a tiny bit by adding more goat cheese. The black pepper and honey work well together next to the rosemary and the preserves just make it something really special.

This could make a lovely holiday gift if packed in a small crock or a special addition to your holiday appetizer plans.

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese; about 1 cup
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons apricot or fig preserves

Combine all ingredients except the preserves in a food processor. Pack into a shallow serving dish or small crock and chill. Cover thickly with apricot preserves and serve with assorted whole grain crackers or the Homemade Crackers found in Sugar & Salt: Book 1 (the Blue Book).

Makes 2 cups

Annie
Just got the wreaths today and the house is full of evergreens!

Thanksgiving Leftovers – Take Four – Turkey Shepard’s Pie

Thanksgiving dinner is truly my favorite of all the holiday meals, but it’s a toss up as to whether I like the meal itself or the leftovers more.  Here’s another idea for how to use up all those delicious leftovers and a few from previous years to keep you busy for a couple of dinners following the big one.

Thanksgiving Leftovers
One – Leftover Turkey Soup and/or Leftover Turkey Sandwich Ideas
Two – Turkey Hash
Three – Potato Cakes, Potato Bread, Potato Leek Soup

Also, don’t forget to freeze and label what you won’t use in the several days following the big meal.  Save it all for later in the winter when you need a weeknight dinner right quick and in a hurry.

Turkey Shepard’s Pie
In a casserole dish, layer cooked turkey meat, gravy, cut up green beans (or other vegetable) and top with mashed potatoes or mashed squash.  Bake at 350°F or until the edges are beginning to brown and the center is hot all the way through.  If you don’t have enough gravy, make a little sauce of your own by heating up the turkey and the green beans with a little butter in an oven-proof skillet.  Sprinkle with flour and stir to incorporate.  Add a cup or so of stock and stir.  Add more if the mixture is too thick.  Then layer the rest of your ingredients on top.

 

 

Spring Tartlet

Galettes have become a staple in my kitchen. It’s easier than a pie and more elegant in some ways because it’s different, portable for taking to another’s for dinner without keeping track of your pie plate, and, well, fun! Needless to say, I’m a big fan. I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of savory combinations for a quick dinner, as these days we are all working at a vigorous clip to get the Riggin ready for the season.

A galette is essentially a rustic, loosely formed pie. They are beautiful and can be made large for 10 to 12 people, small for 4 to 6, or even individual. This crust has some cornmeal in it, which gives a nice texture, compliments the rustic style, and gives the crust a bit more form. For transporting, simply loosely surround them with parchment paper for a rustic wrapping.

While recipes have specific amounts, what I’ve found most useful about galettes, similar to pizza, is the ability to use up little bits of cheese and/or leftover grilled meat and vegetables. It therefore goes without saying that no galette in my house will every be the same, as we will never have the exact same combinations of leftovers. The recipe below is meant as a starting point to give you an idea of how much to use and in what combinations, but experiment away!

While these are savory, you can always use berries, a little flour, and some sugar for a dessert galette like the Raspberry Cinnamon Galette in my cookbook, Sugar and Salt: The Blue Book.

Galette Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup cornmeal
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup ice water
1/4 cup buttermilk

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the butter and either press with your thumbs or use a pastry knife to incorporate. The mixture should look like something between breadcrumbs and small peas. The smaller the pieces the more tender; the bigger, the flakier. Add the ice water and buttermilk. If you need more liquid, add 1 teaspoon at a time until the mixture forms a ball. Divide into 2 equal rounds, cover well, and freeze for 30 minutes. Lightly flour the counter top and roll out each disc into an 11-inch circle. Place the ingredients in the center in the order listed, leaving a 2-inch perimeter without filling. Neatly fold over the 2-inch edge toward the center, pinching where needed. Bake for 45 minutes or until the center is hot and the pastry is golden brown. Cut into 4 to 6 pieces each. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 2 large serving 4 to 6 people

Tomato, Dill, and Fontina Galette
8 ounces grated Fontina cheese; about 4 cups lightly packed
20 cherry and orange tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon fresh dill sprigs
zest from 1 lemon
pinch of salt
several grinds fresh black pepper

Annie
Spring is a happy time

 

 

Baked Brie – Holiday Appetizers for a Crowd

Entertaining equals stress in many home kitchens, but fear not. It needn’t be this way! The trick is to choose wisely and plan ahead. Even if you like to fly by the seat of your pants and let the choices reveal themselves to you. Even if you aren’t a planner. Now is the time to step out of your usual pattern and be kind to yourself by spending a little time thinking and organizing. Then let the rest go.

Clean ahead, set the table ahead, shop ahead, bake ahead. Choose simple but elegant menus. And then enjoy your guests, your clean house and your delicious food.

The appetizers offered here are ones in just this category. Because you’ll be adding lots of flavor to the brie, choose brands that are on the lower end of the price spectrum – ones that you might not choose for a cheese platter, but that will be perfect for the addition of a funky or traditional topping.

Wishing you calm, serene moments with your family and friends.

Crushed Pretzel and Garlic-Crusted Baked Brie

1 8-ounce wheel of brie
1/2 cup crushed pretzels; about 3 pretzel rods
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese, about 1/3 cup lightly packed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic, about 1 clove garlic
Several grinds fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the wheel of brie on an oven proof serving platter or a pie tin. To crush the pretzel rods, place them on a cutting board and roll over them with a rolling pin. The pieces want to be the size of peas, not pulverized into crumbs. In a small bowl, combine the pretzels, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic and pepper. Mix well and mound the mixture on top of the brie wheel. Some will fall off; this is fine. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is beginning to brown and get crispy and the brie has softened and is pliable but the surface is still unbroken.

Serves 8 to 12 as an appetizer.

VARIATIONS on the above recipe:

Almond, Cranberry, and Brown Sugar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine in a small bowl and mound over brie as in above recipe and bake.

Walnuts and Lemon Marmalade
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons lemon marmalade
Pinch of salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine in a small bowl and mound over brie as in above recipe and bake.

Herb and Sun-Dried Tomato
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until completely combined. Top brie as in above recipe and bake.

Black Olive Tapenade
You can make the tapenade up to two weeks in advance, as it gets better with time. This spread is great as an appetizer with goat cheese as well.

1 cup dried Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons capers
2 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup packed fresh Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Because the capers are so salty, soak them in fresh water for a few minutes to release some of the salt. Drain them after soaking. Puree all the ingredients in a food processor. Refrigerate until ready to serve if making ahead or top brie as in above recipe.

Makes 1 cup

Portland Press Herald Article

In case you missed it on Facebook, here’s the link to our most recent press about the Sugar & Salt books.  Peggy Grodinsky is the acclaimed food editor of the Portland Press Herald and was actually my editor for a couple of years until I stopped doing the food column for that paper.  It was interesting to talk with her in this interview, as while we worked together for several years, we inherited each other and never actually met face to face.  Most of our conversations were via email based exclusively on the text and content of my columns.  To have our awareness of each other expand into our larger life realms was fun.

The piece is in the Chop Chop segment and features my recipes for Blizzard Carbonara and Beet, Pear, and Cranberry Salad with Shaved Asiago.

Photo by Elizabeth Poisson